Burma’s democracy icon had promised to fight for democracy and ethnic rights, both at the same time, during the meeting with United Nationalities Alliance (UNA) leaders last Tuesday, 15 November, according to Shan Nationalities league for Democracy (SNLD) spokesman Sai Lake.
She was sounding out her ally the UNA, the coalition formed by elected representatives from the 1990 elections, 3 days before the NLD’s Central Committee meeting that, not unexpectedly, passed resolutions to re-register the party and contest the forthcoming elections.
The SNLD, in the meanwhile, confirms that re-registration and contesting the elections are out of the question, as long as its top leaders Khun Tun Oo, Sai Nyunt Lwin and others are still imprisoned.
Her statement was in response to the SNLD’s position that democracy alone would not bring internal peace. “For the ethnic peoples, the Right of Self Determination and Equality are especially vital,” the written suggestion by the SNLD reads. “Without achieving them, genuine peace cannot be established.”
Her reply was in line with the de-registered United Nationalities League for Democracy (UNLD) statement in 1998: Democracy and Ethnic Rights are heads and tails of the same coin.
Sai Lake said Ms Suu Kyi’s response had made the UNA feel much better about the budding political marriage between her NLD and the Thein Sein government.
Khun Tun Oo, the SNLD leader, was removed from the prison in Putao, the northernmost town in Burma where he had been serving his 93 year term since 2005, to Toungoo, 175 miles north of Rangoon, on 16 November. He arrived there on 20 November.
Attached is a copy of the written suggestion in Burmese by the SNLD and the unofficial translation.
(seal) Suggestion by Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) to National League for Democracy (NLD)
Dated 15 November 2011
We also want change. Which means we accept that to achieve democracy we must be ready take risks and pay the price for it. Our understanding is that the NLD’s decision to register the party is part of its overall effort to achieve democracy. We have nothing against it.
Concerning this, we would also like to point out that democracy alone will not bring internal peace. For the ethnic peoples, the right of Self Determination and Equality are especially vital. Without achieving them, genuine internal peace cannot be established. We would therefore like to appeal to Daw Suu and the NLD that while it is imperative that Burma achieves democracy, the creation of a genuine union is also equally important.
The two issues should therefore be tackled simultaneously as a double target. With your concurrence, the SNLD will cooperate with you in working towards them by undertaking the job of explaining to the ethnic peoples of Shan State.
In accordance with the resolution of the Central Executive Committee